Saturday, 23 October 2010

DVD Reviews

Iron Man 2
Starring: Robert Downey Jr., Gwyneth Paltrow, Mickery Rourke
Director: Jon Favreau
Paramount Home Entertainment

Available from Monday 25th October - £19.99 (DVD), £24.99 (Double DVD), £27.99 (Blu-ray, DVD and Digital Copy)
Review by Charlotte Barnes

The billionaire superhero in the iron suit is back! Stark must become iron man once more and do battle with Whiplash (Mickey Rourke – Get Carter), and corporate rival Justin Hammer (Sam Rockwell – Galaxy Quest). Scarlett Johansson (Eight Legged Freaks) stars as sexy Russian spy Black Widow, and Don Cheadle (Swordfish) assumes the role of Colonel James Rhodes from Terrence Howard.

Iron Man 2 screams "lazy". It is as though the writers, director and producer got together in one room and said “Hey, everyone, we made lots of money on the last one and we generated a great following! An audience is guaranteed so let’s be a bit half-arsed with this one as we know it is going to be a money spinner!”

The characters just aren’t fleshed out enough and either don’t get the opportunity to shine (this is certainly the case with Black Widow) or get developed enough to be a convincing baddie. This is most definitely the case with Ivan Vanko aka Whiplash. We know the basics about him - he is the son of Anton Vanko who moved to the United States to collaborate with Tony Stark's father only to be fired by him, deported back to the Soviet Union, and forced to live in exile - but this information only takes up about ten minutes of the film, you never see the suffering that they go through together or Ivan growing up. The beauty of the first film was that you really got to know the main characters of the film: you got emotionally attached to them. Even with Obadiah Stane you could see why he wanted to kill Tony Stark.

Secondly, it all just seems too easy in the first film, Tony struggled to create the Iron Man suit, he was continually testing it out and working out the kinks. Even though they show him working on finding a new element to power his arc chest reactor, (Spoiler: Highlight to read) it just happens that his Dad managed to invent it when Tony was small and hide it in a diagram of Stark Industries in his office. (End Spoiler) LAZY, LAZY, LAZY WRITING!

The Emotionally Fourteen Rating:
Violence:
Definitely has plenty of action, including being whipped and hand-blasted.
Sex/Nudity: Some.
Swearing: None of note.
Summary: An average return for the Iron Man franchise. On the Marvel Scale of superhero movies Dare Devil being the worst and Iron Man (oh, the irony) being the best, then Iron Man 2 would sit round about the Wolverine/Ghost Rider mark. 5/10

Dead Cert
Starring: Steven Berkoff, Craig Fairbrass, Billy Murray
Director: Steven Lawson
Momentum Pictures Home Entertainment

Available Now - £12.99 (DVD)
Review by Blake Harmer

When small-time gangster Freddie “Dead Cert” Frankham is approached at the opening of his new nightclub by Dante Livienko, an Eastern European businessman, gangster and drug dealer, asking for ownership of his club, he makes a bet at a fight that his bare knuckle fighter can take down one of Livienko’s goons. However, what Freddie doesn’t know is that he has entered into a bet with a five-hundred year old vampire who wants the club as it's built on top of a Satanic church, and wishes to turn it into a den of evil and rebuild his vampire empire.

The concept of British cockney gangsters as we all love from Guy Ritchie movies like Snatch and Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels taking on vampires is a great idea. However, Dead Cert just doesn’t pull it off right. The acting is poor and of a similar quality to a soap opera, the film takes ages to build up any real steam, and the vampires look like extras from Buffy.

There are some good one-liners and a few nice death scenes throughout to restore some of the credit lost. However, the flaws overshadow these, and with the criminal versus vampire idea being done better by From Dusk Till Dawn, it ends up being quite hard to recommend this.

The Emotionally Fourteen Rating
Violence:
Lots of violence and gore, with plenty of gritty violence as you would expect from a British horror movie.
Sex/Nudity: Some sexual references and nudity, but the main focus is on the violence and gore.
Swearing: The film is filled with British Gangsters; there is lots and lots of swearing throughout, although usually to a comedic level.
Summary: A nice idea for a vampire film poorly executed with some poor acting and lazy direction, which sadly makes the film a rather muted affair. With so many better vampire films out there, there just isn’t enough here unless you love your British gangster movies and would like to see a vampire film that doesn’t take itself too seriously. 5/10

Big Tits Zombie 3D
Starring: Sola Aoi, Risa Kasumi, Mari Sakurai
Director: Takao Nakano
Terracotta Distribution

Available Now - £14.99 (DVD)
Review by Brad Harmer

This is the first time that I will ever have to use the phrase “flame-throwing vagina” in a review.


Recently returned from a stint in Mexico, exotic-dancer Lena gets a gig at a run-down resort in a deserted town. Her fellow strippers – Ginko, Maria, Nene and Dana – seem to spend most of their downtime sitting around bitching at each other, until one afternoon, after discovering a hidden door in their dressing room, they decide to venture into the basement. There, they unearth a rare copy of the Book of the Dead.

Reading aloud from the tome, Maria summons the dead back to life and soon Japan is overrun by zombies. For the strippers, however, that’s of no interest. For the time being, the only zombies they are worried about are those who have descended upon their club and are ready to chow down on them! What’s worse, though, is that Maria, on discovering she has the power to control the undead as her slaves, is intent on ruling the world with her zombie army. Arming themselves with swords and chainsaws, the remaining busty babes are forced to employ their skills in a fight to the un-death!

Japanese comedy doesn’t usually translate very well for a western release as it’s often too “zany” to makes any sense to us. Thankfully, Bit Tits Zombie 3D manages to still be quite funny. The one-liners and comic timing make the transition very well, and there are a good couple of laugh out loud moments.

The movie, in general has a good, quirky, Troma/GWAR feel to it that makes it pretty light viewing, and a great sort of movie to watch with friends and pizza/popcorn. It’s as though it loaded up on as many different genres as it could into a mini-gun and fired them onto the celluloid at full-auto.

The gore work and make-up is fantastic - possibly because I had very low expectations – but it certainly delivers on that front, in both quantity and quality.

There are only really a couple of points against it. Firstly, the 3D mastering could be a lot, lot better. It’s not migraine inducing, but there are several scenes with quite severe ghosting, which is very distracting. Also, not all of the film is in 3D – only certain scenes are...but there is no rhyme or reason as to which scenes are in 3D and which aren’t.

And the plot is pretty flimsy (the movie’s called Big Tits Zombie 3D...what were you expecting?), and degenerates into zombie movie cliché by the half-way point. But then it pulls it up again with a flame-throwing vagina, so you can’t be grumbling all that much.

The Emotionally Fourteen Rating:
Violence:
Frequent cannibalism, fighting, gunfire, swords combat, blood spraying, gore and - in the words of Norwegian Black Metal band Mayhem – Chainsaw Gutsfuck.
Sex/Nudity: Frequent titties. I love that sentence. I wish I could say it about more movies. Books. Games. Paintings. Bank Holidays. Also: flame-throwing vagina.
Swearing: Some, but nothing spectacular.
Summary: A fun, horror/comedy/action/kung-fu movie. It’s worth a chuckle, but you may want to rent first. Also: flame-throwing vagina. 8/10

Not Like Others
Starring: David Denick, Ruth Vega Hernandez, Jenny Lampa
Director: Peter Pontikis
Chelsea Films

Available from Monday 25th October - £12.99 (DVD)
Review by Kelly Prior

Swedish film Vampyrer, otherwise known by its English title Not Like Others is the touching story of two sisters, Vera and Vanja, who live a secluded life in society’s shadows. Vera and Vanja are vampires, trying to live unnoticed, but desperate to feed and quench their hunger for blood. Vera kills a biker at a nightclub for her and Vanja to drink from, but their world is turned upside down when the rest of his biker gang dedicate every waking minute to tracking them and seeking vengeance for their leader. Tension rises between the two sisters as they go on the run.

Vanja wishes to settle down with a human she has met and live a normal life, refusing to let the vampire in her take over, while Vera is a thrill seeking young girl who loves drinking blood and gets off on the power she holds over humans. She wants her sister to accept their life as vampires. Will Vanja turn her back on humanity to preserve the bond she has with her sister, or will she leave Vera to fight alone?

This is, by all standards, an “all right” film. There’s nothing particularly special about it, but it’s not one of those “it was so crap it made me angry” films. It’s not so much a film about vampires, but a film about two sisters who just happen to be creatures of the night. It’s the classic tale of one person embracing a compromised situation, while the other fights against it. It has the cinematic feel of a low budget student film, but this is not a criticism. In fact, it actually gives the film lots of charm and character.

Some scenes are intense and exciting and give the plot a boost, while other scenes are slow and pointless, like filming one of the girls dancing for far too long, in an attempt to be “artistic”, I suppose. The bikers add an interesting layer to the film. It is definitely a reference to the classic Vampire Hunter vs. Vampire story. Only, in this case, the “vampire hunters” are just angry bikers with a thirst for vengeance. With the help of good lighting effects and excellent camera work, the bikers are really creepy and really add to the atmosphere of the film.

The Emotionally Fourteen Rating:
Violence:
Some Vampire nomming.
Sex/Nudity: Only suggested.
Swearing: A couple of naughty words, but it’s in Swedish, so it’s okay, right?
Summary: This film is definitely average. Not too awful, not too good. It’s not very “vampirey”, if that’s what you’re looking for. In fact, it’s more in the same vain as the long emotional scenes and sparkly vampires of a certain franchise very popular at the moment. 5/10

Animals
Starring: Naveen Andrews, Nicki Aycox, Marc Blucas
Director: Douglas Aarniokoski
Chelsea Cinema

Available Now - £12.99 (DVD)
Review by Blake Harmer

When one time local hero and now down and out man, Jarrett, who spends his time wasting away in a bar in a washed up hick town and making ends meet doing blue collar jobs meets Nora, a gorgeous stranger who turns up at the bar one night, his whole life is turned upside down. Especially when it turns out that she is a vampire-like creature that feeds on human blood but can reveal their true animal form and turn into a ghostly wolf like monster, and that she is trying to escape Vic, another vampire who turned her, and he gets caught in a deadly triangle.

As you can tell from the plot, Animals does have some good things going for it. The idea of the vampires being more animal like in nature and giving into their primal impulses and instincts is awesome. This probably explains the sex scenes in the film. And there are a lot of them. In fact, throughout the course of the film I counted about seven sex scenes, which is pretty damn good going for a film about monsters. Whilst this isn’t necessary a highlight for the film, it does feel like they were trying to beat some sort of record for most sex scenes in a horror movie. Animals also has some good characters, especially in the form of general badass Vic, who likes nothing more than to tear people limb from limb.

The film is sadly let down by some incredibly shoddy CG effects which ruin some of the later action scenes when the vampires have turned into their wolf-like forms. I also thought the plot took along time to get going, but that may be because they were too busy cramming another sex scene into the film to remember the plot.

The Emotionally Fourteen Rating
Violence:
Some pretty violent scenes but they are few and far between, which is quite odd considering it’s a monster movie.
Sex/Nudity: Several sex scenes and quite a bit of nudity, I’ve seen porn with less sex scenes than this movie.
Swearing: Plenty of strong language including the c word which is something you don’t hear a lot in films these days.
Summary: An enjoyable vampire film let down by its reliance on too much CG, rather than crafting a truly brilliant vampire story. 6/10

The Inbetweeners: Series Three
Starring: James Buckley, Greg Davies, Joe Thomas
Channel 4 DVD

Available from Monday 25th October - £19.99 (DVD)
Review by Brad Harmer

The Inbetweeners follows four friends, Will, Simon, Neil and Jay, as they try hopelessly to navigate their way through sixth form, with their hormones running riot. Neither the coolest kids in school, nor the ultimate nerds the four ‘inbetweeners’ try their best to improve their social standing, and more importantly impress girls, with hilarious results.

From Simon’s wardrobe malfunction whilst taking part in the school fashion show, to Will trying to escape being known as the kid who soiled himself in the exam, to Jay’s trying to avoid his dog’s attentions, to Neil’s 18th birthday party, nothing goes quite to plan.

Remember how Alan Partridge would say something inappropriate and slowly dig a hole for himself, whilst you half died of laughter and half screamed “stop!”. If you remember that feeling, imagine that hilarious awkwardness stretched over the full running time of an episode, and you’ve hit on what’s so great about The Inbetweeners. The cringe factor is higher than ever this series, and generally, it’s the better for it.

The series' only real flaw is when a situation feels forced. Every now and again (especially noticeable in the final episode), one of the characters has to do something exceptionally stupid or out of character in order for the plot to progress. This is pretty unsatisfactory, but not so frequent that it ruins the good times, of which there are a great many.

The Emotionally Fourteen Rating:
Violence:
Some pushing and shoving.
Sex/Nudity: Frequently discussed, some comedic quasi-off-screen depictions of sex acts. Partial male nudity. One hairy bollock.
Swearing: Frequent, extreme and highly creative.
Summary: More cringing, nostalgia and laughter from the boys. Not as good as previous series, but still head and shoulders over anything else on TV at the moment. 9/10

Chuck: Season Three
Starring: Joshua Gomez, Zachary Levi, Yvonne Strahovski
Warner Home Video

Available from Monday 25th October - £39.99 (DVD)
Review by Charlotte Barnes

Chuck is back and he’s the Chuck you know: the hapless Nerd Herder hopelessly devoted to sexy super spy Sarah. And he’s the Chuck you don’t know: a master martial artist whose brain is locked and loaded with the new Intersect 2.0. A dashing new rival (Brandon Routh) joins the team, someone from Chuck's Buy More life discovers his secret and Chuck learns the spy biz can turn the nicest guy dark and dangerous.

Well, it is Chuck’s third season and it finally feels like it is really getting into the swing of things! The scripts are wittier, the underdog characters are fleshed out more and Chuck finally gets the girl. The introduction of Brandon Routh’s character Daniel Shaw is a breath of fresh air, he adds a new dimension to the team that as well as being a new love interest for Sarah.

Although the show has gotten more dramatic, with more and more innovative episodes with more and more daring plot lines, I feel like Chuck does not have any more to give. This is definitely the best season so far, but I just genuinely believe that after this point there just can’t be anywhere for the show to go. Chuck promises to quit the spy business for good, they have exhausted so many storylines that all they can really do now is add characters which I feel would be to the detriment of the series. I just hope that if there is a fourth season, that it can somehow manage to keep the momentum and find a way of writing new fitting storylines and not jump the shark.

The Emotionally Fourteen Rating:
Violence:
Plenty of martial arts and tranquiliser-gun action.
Sex/Nudity: Some, mainly snogging and some pants action.
Swearing: None of note.
Summary: Fun and witty season, the best Chuck has offered so far. Let’s just hope it can maintain this calibre. 6/10

Grandma’s House
Starring: Simon Amstell, Linda Bassett, Rebecca Front
2entertain

Available Now - £19.99 (DVD)
Review by Brad Harmer

Simon is a mildly self-obsessed, claustrophobic narcissist, trying desperately to heal his broken family so that he can feel something real in his life. His mother, Tanya, is marrying a man with a big house. Clive is a man with a big house. Grandma is desperate for everyone to be happy – or at least agree that they are happy and not cause any bother. Grandpa is no bother (apart from the odd touch of prostate cancer). Liz is not keen on Simon, and her son, Adam, is a bit odd.

A blend of The Royle Family and Curb Your Enthusiasm, Grandma’s House is pretty funny stuff. It’s inconsistent – but when it’s funny, it makes you do that big laugh/snort thing you do that really embarrasses you. It’s that sort of funny. Most of the humour is from the one-liners, rather than the situations, which are – intentionally – generally very bland. If you remember The Royle Family, then you know what sort of humour I’m talking about.

The characters are all really great – even the ones that you’re supposed to find annoying – and we can all see shades of people that we know in them.

Unfortunately, it’s not all great. Amstell’s acting is simply atrocious, and his constant corpsing is distracting. Of course, not anyone could really have replaced him in the role – it’s highly and obviously autobiographical – but some acting courses wouldn’t have done any harm. Also, the gags are sometimes quite far between, which makes you wonder if it’s lost its way every now and again.

The Emotionally Fourteen Rating:
Violence:
Some scuffling, an off-screen traffic collision.
Sex/Nudity: Some references.
Swearing: Some, but generally mild.
Summary: An above average comedy with some great one-liners, but far from consistent, and Amstell’s constant corpshing is nothing short of irritating. 7/10

The Lawnmower Man
Starring: Pierce Brosnan, Jeff Fahey, Jenny Wright
Director: Brett Leonard & Farhad Mann
Universal Pictures

Available from Monday 25th October - £9.99 (DVD)
Review by Brad Harmer

In this sci-fi thriller, Pierce Brosnan plays Dr Lawrence Angelo, a brilliant scientist obsessed with perfecting a revolutionary virtual reality computer software. When his experiments on animals fail, he finds the ideal substitute: Jobe Smith, a slow witted gardener, known as “The Lawnmower Man”.

Dr Angelo’s goal is to benefit his human guinea pig and ultimately mankind itself; but evil lurks in the guise of “The Shop”, a shadowy group that seeks to use the technology to create an invincible war machine. When the experiments change the simple Lawnmower Man into a superhuman being, the stage is set for a Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde struggle for the control of Jobe’s mind and the future of the world.

The Lawnmower Man is only really known for two things: a) it’s (at the time) cutting edge CG sequences and b) pissing off Stephen King more than the driver of a 1985 Dodge Caravan. Obviously, nearly twenty years later, the CG is no longer impressive. Hell, it was barely impressive by the time the Sega Saturn came out...that’s how long ago we’re talking, kids. So, with it’s main selling point gone, how does it look now?

Well, what’s left isn’t actually that bad, surprisingly. The actors are good (especially Fahey), and the direction is still solid. The cyberpunk storyline hasn’t aged that badly, either, and its topics are still pretty relevant today. That’s not to say that it’s especially good, either.

To be fair to the presentation, if you like The Lawnmower Man, then you should get this DVD. The picture looks pretty good and you get a free coaster/copy of The Lawnmower Man 2 in here as well. If you’ve never seen it, then you’ll want to rent first, or wait for it to come on TV even, before parting with your money.

The Emotionally Fourteen Rating:
Violence:
An ape gets shot. And someone threatens someone with a lawnmower. It’s not as cool as Braindead.
Sex/Nudity: A couple of sex scenes, with boobies.
Swearing: Precious little.
Summary: Nowhere near as bad as its reputation imples...but still not essential by a long shot. Did this movie really need a DVD special edition? 6/10

Dead Silence
Starring: Ryan Kwanten, Amber Valetta, Donnie Wahlberg
Director: James Wan
Universal Pictures

Available from Monday 25th October - £17.99 (Blu-ray)
Review by Brad Harmer

Ever since Mary Shaw was hunted down and killed, the small town of Raven’s Fair has been haunted by horrific deaths. When a local’s wife is brutally murdered, he returns home to unravel the terrifying legend of Mary Shaw and the reason why when you see her, you should never, ever scream.

The central concept of Dead Silence – ghosts and a killer ventriloquist’s puppet – is so mind bogglingly dumb that it’s hard to take it seriously. This is a real shame, as in execution, it’s a pretty good horror movie. Some of the jumps and scares are a little but stupid, but when it works, it really works. the scene in the foundations of the funeral home, especially, is really, really creepy.

There’s a good sense of mystery throughout, and you really feel you’re getting somewhere with each scene. This was James Wan’s first film after the explosive success of Saw, so credit to him for trying something different, and trying to make a good ghost story rather than just doing another thriller/torture porn movie.

The cast is satisfactory, the jumps are fun and the central concept – and don’t ask me how this works – is simultaneously clever and stupid. For a Halloween fright-fest you could have fun with this, but the Blu-ray isn’t anything that you wouldn’t get with a DVD.

And, good lord, that cover art is awful.

The Emotionally Fourteen Rating:
Violence:
Blood, gore, gunfire and macabre mutilated corpses.
Sex/Nudity: None.
Swearing: Standard for a Hollywood horror movie.
Summary: An entertaining enough horror movie, and well put together – but restricted by its own overly convoluted rules. Worth picking up a copy for a Halloween movie night...but probably not worth forking out for the Blu-ray version. 7/10


METALOCALYPSE: SEASON TWO GIVEAWAY

The Metalocalypse looms over us all like a furious python waiting to attack. Like a large expertly wielded hammer ready to pound and crush us all into a rotten bloody paste. But another danger has revealed itself. The 'Revengencers' seek to destroy. They crawl from a putrid sludge to force a horrid tempest onto the lives of our beloved DETHKLOK. And Dethklok is faced with more brutality. The brutality of weight loss, weddings and sobriety - and the brutality of a rock 'n' roll clown.

The brilliance and scathing social criticism of Metalocalypse scorns the weak-minded and empowers free thinkers, making this the most dangerous programme in the history of television. Beware.

Thanks to our friends at Revolver Entertainment, we've got three copies of Metalocalypse: Season Two to give away! For your chance of winning, send you name and full postal address to metalocalypsegiveaway@yahoo.co.uk before midday on Saturday 30th October. The first three names out of the electronic hat will win a free copy each!

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